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This Discrimination Policy can be provided by Employers to Employees, to inform them of how bullying, harassment, victimisation and discrimination are treated by the Employer.
This may cover such things as:
In many cases, Employers in Australia may be found to have a legal obligation towards all Employees to provide a safe workplace which is free from bullying, harassment, victimisation and discrimination. Therefore, Employers might be under a legal obligation to implement an effective Discrimination Policy.
It is important that this document accurately reflects the Employer's actual approach to bullying, harassment, victimisation and discrimination.
Discrimination Policies are not generally intended to be contractually binding on Employees. Instead, they explain the Employer's general rules, procedures and expectations of Employees in relation to discrimination. As a consequence, if the Employer fails to follow a particular policy, the Employee may not be able to claim that the Employer has breached its contractual obligations. However, this also means that if there are specific matters of importance, that should be legally binding on the Employee (such as their specific job duties, confidentiality obligations, or conflict of interest obligations), then the Employer should make sure that these are addressed in a legally binding document, such as an Employment Agreement, a Confidentiality Agreement or a Non-Compete Agreement.
How to use this document
Use this document to notify Employees of how the Employer will handle matters involving bullying, harassment, victimisation and discrimination.
Ensure that the document accurately reflects the Employer's actual approach to these matters.
Having an accurate and up to date Policy is an important step for Employers to take, but in addition to this, they should make sure they are aware of their obligations under Australian law. In some cases, Employers may be required to set up systems or processes in the workplace to make sure that Employees are protected from bullying, harassment, victimisation and discrimination. Further information is available from the Australian Human Rights Commission, or the Employer may seek legal advice.
Once the document has been completed, it can be made available to Employees. It may be provided to new Employees when they first start working with the Employer. For existing Employees, it may be distributed, together with a message to notify them that this document outlines the Employer's updated approach to bullying, harassment, victimisation and discrimination.
In any event, it is important that the details of this Policy are actually communicated to Employees, and that Employees actually understand what is expected of them. An easy way to do this is by sending a Letter to Employees About New or Updated Workplace Policies.
Some Employers choose to have Employees sign a copy of the document, to confirm that they have read and understood it. Signed copies may be kept on file by the Employer.
Some Employers also choose to make reference to this Policy within the Employment Contract.
The following legislation affects bullying, harassment, victimisation and discrimination in Australia:
- Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Commonwealth)
- Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Commonwealth)
- Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Commonwealth)
- Age Discrimination Act 2004 (Commonwealth)
- Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Commonwealth)
Each state and territory has legislation in relation to work health and safety. Further information is available from Safe Work Australia.
In addition, the Fair Work Act 2009 (Commonwealth) deals with other employment matters such as unfair dismissal.
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